The Parliament of Georgia endorsed at its sitting on April 18 with 77 votes in favor to one against amendments to the law on the Political Unions of Citizens, introducing new rules in the political party financing regulations.
The legislative proposal, registered in October 2017, was sponsored by two Georgian Dream (GD) lawmakers - Simon Nozadze and Gia Zhorzholiani - from GD’s Industrialists and Social-Democrats factions, respectively.
Under the new regulations, the parties which manage to obtain at least one majoritarian seat (independently or in an electoral bloc) and establish a faction (minimum six MPs required), will be eligible for budgetary funding.
Previously, only those parties, which would manage to garner at least 3% of votes (independently or in an electoral bloc) in previous parliamentary or local elections, were eligible for such funding. This rule will remain in force.
As a result, the Industrialist party, which obtained 0.78% votes in the parliamentary polls in 2016, but won a seat in Khashuri single-mandate constituency and formed a faction within the Georgian Dream majority group, will receive over GEL 600,000 in annual budgetary funding.
Three leading Georgian civil society organizations - the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, the Transparency International and the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy - criticized the amendments, calling the decision “unjustified” and “intentionally tailored” to a single party.
“The change lowers the eligibility standard for state financing, and increases risks of unreasonable use of limited budgetary resources. Party funding should be allocated based on nationwide support and not on the election of a single MP, who manages to establish a faction,” their statement reads.